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65 years downhill

Ski Club also pedals, paddles, plays

WARREN — They don’t hibernate in the summer. When the snow melts, members of the Warren Ski Club — celebrating its 65th anniversary — pedal bicycles, paddle kayaks, hike trails and fill plates at picnics and barbecues.

“We are active all year round to stay physically in shape,” club President Mark Gorse of Warren said. “We are a community of people who share the same interests, with snow skiing as the central focus.”

The organization claims to have something for everyone, both skiers and nonskiers. They are all about going to new places, meeting new people and trying new things, Gorse said.

In addition to weekend ski trips at local resorts, the club has offered weeklong excursions to Colorado, Alaska and Utah, as well as trips to the slopes in Italy, Switzerland, France and Canada.

When it’s time to pack away the boots and poles, the club hosts spring and fall dinner parties on Lake Milton; offers a summer pig roast with optional overnight camping; gathers at a pub of the month for evenings out; holds weekly bike rides; takes kayak trips; hikes Mill Creek MetroParks and other trails; and shows up for impromptu events and meet-ups.

Last fall, members took a bus trip to Salt Fork State Park in southern Ohio, where they hiked, visited local wineries and were a part of a wine tasting event.

“We’ve been going around the world since 1965,” Gorse said.

The Warren Ski Club was founded by Mike Lester, who owned a ski shop called Lester’s Ski Chalet in Niles. He got together with other local ski enthusiasts, and they began to call themselves the Warren Ski Club, according to club historians. One of the first members was Richard Alberini, and the group would hold its monthly meetings at his restaurant.

Over the years, the club increased in membership and activities, and also endured periods of decline. In the 1970s, there were about 200 members, and four bus trips a year to a ski destination out West.

In the 1980s, the club continued with two local bus trips while the trips west increased. In the 1990s, the members became interested in ski racing and started the Black Sheep race team. The club continued to grow and began to travel to European destinations.

In 2000, the club peaked at 700 members and offered a New Year’s ski trip that required five buses. Since that time, club membership began to decline but trips continued both locally and abroad, according to club records.

Today, there are 130 members and the group is growing again. Monthly meetings are held at Giorgio’s Ristorante in Niles the first Tuesday of each month to discuss ski trips and club activities.

Terry Shifflet of Cortland said that she and her husband joined the club six years ago. “You can always find someone to do something with. The club opens up a lot of opportunities to make new friends and try new things.”

She retired from the Trumbull Career and Technical Center and then from Eastern Gateway Community College, where she was involved in recruitment. The Shifflets’ social life revolved around the activities of their two children, and when the kids grew up and moved away, she and her husband realized they needed to get out and make new friends.

Shifflet said her favorite sport is downhill skiing, and they have joined the club on some of the annual western trips.

“There is plenty of time to be on your own as well as time to spend with other club members,” she said. “You can always find someone who shares similar interests by joining a club.”

She said that while “the club offers activities that draw a large crowd, there are also activities like kayaking, which provide a smaller group experience.”

Gorse said he was introduced to snow skiing at age 12 when his brother took him to a ski resort in Cockaigne, N.Y. He broke a leg. However, he didn’t quit.

“I’m passionate about skiing. It is my favorite sport,” he said. “Being out West is a special treat where you are in the mountains and the snow conditions are generally better. It also offers more difficult terrain.”

So that beginners aren’t scared off, Gorse points out that at each skiing venue ski slopes are available which offer varying levels of difficulty and rated by a universal system recognized around the world.

The Warren Ski Club wants to be known as a great ski club that promotes travel, activities and fun during all four seasons, he said. For more information, go to www.warrenskiclub.org or visit the clug on Facebook.

Celebrate

The Warren Ski Club will celebrate its 65th anniversary with a social gathering Sept. 24 at the Lake Milton Yacht Club.

For information on club activities, snow or sun, visit www.warrenskiclub.org or the Warren Ski Club page on Facebook. Annual dues are $25.

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